Carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) composites have extensive value in the aerospace, defense, sporting goods, and high performance automobile industries. These composites have huge benefits including high strength to weight ratios and the ability to tailor their properties. A significant issue with carbon fiber composites is the potential for catastrophic fatigue failure. To better understand this fatigue, there is first a huge push to measure strain accurately and in-situ to monitor carbon fiber composites. In this paper, piezoresistive nickel nanostrand (NiNs) nanocomposites were embedded in between layers of carbon fiber composite for real time, in situ strain monitoring. Several different embedding methods have been investigated. These include the direct embedding of a patch of dry NiNs and the embedding of NiNs-polymer matrix nanocomposite patches which are insulated from the surrounding carbon fiber. Also, two different polymer matrix materials were used in the nanocomposite to compare the piezoresistive signal. These nanocomposites are shown to display repeatable piezoresistivity, thus becoming a strain sensor capable of accurately measuring strain real time and in-situ. This patch has compatible mechanical properties to existing advanced composites and shows good resolution to small strain. This method of strain sensing in carbon fiber composites is more easily implemented and used than other strain measurement methods including fiber Bragg grating and acoustic emissions. To show that these embedded strain gages can be used in a variety of carbon fiber components, two different applications were also pursued.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





carbon fibers, nano composites, smart materials, strain sensing, in situ